Cooks’ Exchange: Sweet recipes bring back memories –


The slightest mention of the old Rennebohm Drug stores warms the hearts of so many of us who grew up with the popular stores.

It all began in 1919 when the Badger Pharmacy opened on University Avenue. With brothers Oscar and Edwin Rennebohm in command, the drug store was destined to become a chain with locations within walking distance for all. Known as “Rennies.” the most popular location was referred to as “The Pharm” at State and Lake Streets where UW-Madison students socialized, studied for exams, and nourished themselves with “Bucky Burgers” cherry cokes, and hot fudge Mary Janes.

How fortunate we are today that Dorothy Jones, who graduated from Prairie du Sac High School in 1930, was hired to work for Rennebohm drugstores in Madison. Specializing in preparing food in their Downtown commissary, Jones also saved their favorite recipes in a notebook.

Rennebohm’s hot fudge Mary Janes

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup butter

3 squares baking chocolate, melted

¾ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup nut meats, chopped

Cream together sugar and butter. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Add melted baking chocolate. Mix together dry ingredients and add to batter. Stir in vanilla and fold in nuts. Batter will be very stiff. Grease and flour 9×12-inch pan. Bake at 300-325 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. Use your oven as a baking guide.

Note: For a Rennebohm Hot Fudge Mary Jane, top the brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle with hot fudge.

A short time ago, after a chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe was featured here, Shirley Hojnacki, Madison, contacted me about a version using Hellman’s mayonnaise that’s so special she’s been making it for the past 50 years.

Chocolate mayonnaise cake

3 cups unsifted all purpose flour

1 ½ cups sugar

2⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 ½ cups Hellmann’s real mayonnaise

1 ½ cups water

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

Grease 2 (9×1-½-inch) layer pans; line bottoms with waxed paper. Sift together dry ingredients into large bowl. Stir in mayonnaise. Gradually stir in water and vanilla until smooth and blended. Pour into prepared pans. Bake in 350 degree (moderate) oven about 30 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Cool completely. Remove from pans. Makes 2 layers.

Longtime reader Donna Brooks, Baraboo, has kindly shared many of her favorite recipes, including this one using fresh asparagus.

Creamy asparagus bake

1 can cream of chicken soup

1⁄3 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded cheese

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

3-4 cups asparagus

Combine soup, sour cream, cheese and parsley flakes. Mix well and set aside. Place asparagus in a greased 1 ½ quart casserole. Top with sauce. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Optional buttered crumbs on top.

Here are a few more simple recipes using items you may already have to make and enjoy during these trying times. Both are from “Southern Living Cooking for Two.”

Easy canned fruit cobbler for two

1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon water

8-ounce can sliced and undrained peaches or apricots or cherries or apples

½ cup biscuit mix

2 teaspoons sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Vanilla ice cream

Dissolve cornstarch in cold water; add canned fruit of choice, and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until thick and bubbly. Pour into baking dish. Combine biscuit mix and sugar; add milk and vegetable oil, stirring to form a soft dough. Drop dough by spoonsful on top of fruit choice. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with ice cream.

Crustless coconut pie for two

½ cup biscuit mix

½ cup sugar

2 cups milk

1 cup flaked coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla 3 tablespoons butter, melted

Combine all ingredients in electric blender; blend on low speed for 1 minute. Pour mixture into 9-inch pie plate Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until pie is set.

Just happened to discover this recipe from an old “The Electric Company Christmas Cooky Book” in my cookie folder and needed to share it as a possible “shorter version” of an old favorite.

Brown-eyed Susans

1 cup butter

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspooon almond extract

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Glossy chocolate frosting (see recipe)

Blanched almonds (see recipe)

Cream butter. Add sugar, almond extract and salt. Blend in flour. Shape level tablespoonfiuls of dough into balls. Place on greased cookie sheets. Flatten to ¼-inch thickness with bottom of glass dipped in flour. Bake at 400 degrees 10-12 minutes. Cool. Place ½ teaspoonful of frosting in center of cookies. Top with almonds. Makes 3 dozen.

Glossy chocolate frosting

1 tablespoon butter

1 square unsweetened chocolate

1 cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

About 2 tablespoons hot milk

Melt butter and chocolate together. Add sugar, vanilla and enough milk to make frosting of spreading consistency.

My friend, Isabel Hubbard, shared a wonderful recipe to make and enjoy at any time of the year. If you are a fan of coconut like my son, Mike, this might become one of your all time favorites.

No-fail custard pie

2 cups of milk

½ cup sugar

¼ cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup of flaked coconut

Blend all ingredients, excerpt coconut, in a blender for 10 seconds. Do not overblend. Stir in coconut. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie plate, bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted between the center and outside edge comes out clean. Cool, then chill. Place leftover portions in the refrigerator. Serves 6-8

Marie Kuckkahn has been searching for a pork tenderloin recipe using canned cherries and the juice. Not sure if this is the one she has in mind, but I hope it helps in some way.

Roast tenderloin with cherry cranberry glaze

16 ounce can of unsweetened tart cherries

Cherry flavored juice

4 teaspoons cornstarch

¼ cup brown sugar

½ cup dried cranberries

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

2 whole pork tenderloins, a total of about 1 ½ to 2 pounds

Salt and pepper to taste

Drain cherries, reserving juice. Add enough cherry flavored juice to make one cup. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into 2 tablespoons juice. In small saucepan, combine cornstarch mixture with remaining juice, cherries, brown sugar and cranberries. Cook, stirring until mixture boils and thickens; stir in mustard. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Season pork tenderloin with salt and pepper; roast in shallow pan for 20-30 minutes until internal temperature reads 155 to 160 degrees. Pour glaze evenly over tenderloins during last 10 minutes of roasting time. Serve sliced.

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at